By Brandon Nunley
Our region is a wonderful place to sightsee and indulge in nature when spring rolls around. The jutting mountains, rolling hills, and lively woodlands can provide some unique experiences. Luckily, you don’t have to travel far to take in these natural wonders as they are right in our backyard. The following are a few local parks and trails you can visit to get the most out of spring.
1. Steele Creek Park in Bristol, TN
Steele Creek has a little bit of Located just 15 minutes from campus and covering an area of 2,200 acres, Steele Creek has a little bit of everything. The park has 23+ miles of trails suitable for walking, mountain biking, or going for a jog. The most popular trail is the Lakeside Trail spanning 2.10 miles out to Rooster Front Park for a total of a little over 4 miles out and back. On any given day you will see countless people flocking to this trail for its easy-to-handle terrain and beauty. Right around the 2-mile mark you will find a waterfall with a bridge passing over the creek at the bottom. The park contains many picnic areas alongside the creek, throughout the fields, and beside the trails. Entry on foot or bicycle is free, although if you wish to enter through the main gate in a vehicle there is a small entry fee of $2. Information on Steele Creek can be found here.
2. Creeper Trail in Abingdon, VA
Only 30 minutes from campus you will find the Virginia Creeper Trail. Spanning 34 miles throughout southern Virginia, the creeper trail is rich in history and scenic views. Originally a rail line, it has served as a popular cycling, hiking, and jogging destination in the region. The mostly flat trail rolls through mountains, fields, and multiple rivers and streams. There are plenty of small stops along the way to grab a bite to eat or something to drink along your ride or walk. This trail is best enjoyed on a bike so you will be able to experience the entirety of the beautiful 34-mile trek. While on the Creeper be mindful the trail runs along multiple pieces of private property, so please respect all posted boundaries. For more information on the Creeper Trail please visit their website.
3. The Mendota Trail in Bristol, VA
A quick 10-minute drive from campus, the Mendota trail is its own little walk back in time. The trail is 12.5 miles long although only 8 miles are currently open to the public. The trail runs through bA quick 10-minute drive from campus, the Mendota trail is its own little trip back in time. The entirety of the trek is 12.5 miles long, although only 8 miles are currently open to the public. The trail runs through beautiful woodland and the untamed countryside. In recent years the city of Bristol has put in time and effort to restore this local treasure. Among a few of the restoration projects along the Mendota is a series of new bridges including a swinging bridge, the favorite on the trail due to its uniqueness. The Mendota is fairly flat with the exception of a few small hills. This trail is open to hikers and cyclists to enjoy from dusk to dawn. Leashed pets are allowed to accompany their owners on the conditions their waste is accounted for. Starting as an area for a railroad in the 1850s the Mendota ran its last train in 1987. Considering this trail has gone under plenty of restoration work, it has preserved its historic integrity. More information, along with chances to donate to and volunteer towards the full restoration of the Mendota Trail, can be found here.